Extracurricular activities are a great way for children to make new friends, develop new skills, and have loads of fun. As you and your child begin to select which activities your child will be participating in the New Year, the Alberta Association of Optometrists wants to remind you to keep eye safety in mind. Eye injuries like retinal detachments, ultraviolent (UV) light exposure, and foreign objects in the eye can be easily prevented by wearing protective eyewear.
Here are some options to consider when it comes to protective eyewear:
1. Sport glasses. If your child is interested in playing sports, consider purchasing polycarbonate sport glasses. The polycarbonate material is impact-resistant and blocks out UV rays, making them a great choice for activities like soccer, basketball, tennis, and badminton. Whether your child is interested in a high-contact or low-contact sport, it’s important their eyes are protected from finger pokes, elbow nudges, and flying balls and birdies.
2. Swim goggles. If your child is a swimmer, goggles are a must. The chemicals in pool water can wash away the eye’s protective tear film, leaving the eye susceptible to bacteria, such as pink eye. To reduce the risk of infection, it’s important to have properly fitting swim goggles. To test the fit, press the eyepiece around the eyes without pulling the strap around the back of the head. If the goggles stay in place without slipping off, they are a good fit. If the goggles quickly slip off, try a pair with a different sized eyepiece or nose piece.
3. Sunglasses. Any time your child is heading outdoors, it is important that sunglasses are worn to block out UV light exposure. Be sure to select quality sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 per cent of UV-A and UV-B radiation and 75 to 90 per cent of visible light. When possible, opt for grey-colored lenses. They reduce light intensity without altering the color of objects and provide the most natural color vision.
4. Safety eyewear. Just as scientists and construction workers wear protective eyewear, children should be protecting their eyes when performing tasks that could result in a foreign object landing in the eye. This includes chemicals, sawdust, and other types of debris. Schools often provide protective eyewear when there is an immediate risk of this nature, but it is best to double check to be safe.
No matter what activity your child participates in, it’s important that their eyes are properly protected. Your doctor of optometry can help to fit your child with the proper protective eyewear, and can also customize the eyewear if your child has a prescription.
If your child experiences an eye injury, visit your local optometrist immediately. In Alberta, anyone who requires medical treatment for an eye-related injury or infection is covered by Alberta Health, similar to an emergency room at a hospital. Annual eye exams are also covered for children up to age 19.
For all eye health matters and to find a doctor of optometry in your area, visit optometrists.ab.ca.
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